When to Visit

Cracker Country is open for Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day in September, Christmas in the Country in December, the Florida State Fair in February, Homeschool Day, and private scheduled tours.
Cracker Country is not open daily to the public.
Christmas in the Country

Christmas in the Country

Saturday, December 8, 2018 Bring the family for a great day experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of an old fashion country Christmas. Learn how the holiday traditions of the 19th Read More...

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Florida State Fair

Florida State Fair

Every February during the Florida State Fair, Cracker Country opens its gates to the Fair’s guests! Take a stroll back in time and relax as you experience the sights, sounds, and smells of Read More...

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Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day

Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day

September 22, 2018 -- 10am-4pm   Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day is a national celebration of museums. On this day, you can visit Cracker Country and experience a historic rural Florida Read More...

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Who are we?

A rural Florida living history museum.

Cracker Country is Tampa’s only living history museum and is located on the Florida State Fairgrounds. It was founded with the purpose of preserving Florida’s rural heritage in 1978 by Mildred W. & Doyle E. Carlton, Jr. The museum holds a collection of 13 original buildings dating from 1870-1912 which were relocated from across the state of Florida. Our buildings range from public buildings like our Terry Store and Okahumpka Train Depot, to private buildings like our Carlton and Smith homes. Today, the historically furnished buildings recreate the lifestyles of the past, and costumed interpreters portray daily living as Florida pioneers.

Right: Portrait of Mildred W. & Doyle E. Carlton Jr.


Mildred W. & Doyle E. Carlton Jr.

What is a Florida Cracker?

The term “cracker” dates at least as far back as Shakespeare, who coined it in the play King John.  From the early 19th century it was used to describe the hardy, self-reliant and often poor pioneers who migrated from the north in search of a better life in the harsh Florida wilderness.  Later, the term became associated with Florida’s rugged cattlemen.

Cattle, descended from stock left behind by the Spanish, roamed freely in the Florida woodlands.  Cow hunters used whips to flush the cattle from the underbrush and drive them to ports for shipment north or to Cuba. Whips were not used to strike the cattle.  They were popped in the air to make a “crack” sound to get the cattle moving.  The sound traveled great distances, making the whip an essential communication tool between cowmen.   A commonly used 120 mile cattle drive route across the south central part of the state is known today as the Florida Cracker Trail.


Buckskin Whip


  • Kid-geared activities, informative tour guide who kept it kid-friendly.
  • The knowledge of the volunteers was amazing and I learned so much!
  • The great information on steam engines. Our docent was a great wealth of knowledge.
  • Friendly staff -- very informative with great stories. Rotations were good length to experience but also maintain attention.  Very well organized. :)
  • Enjoyed the atmosphere of a simpler, slower, quieter country Florida.
  •  This was great! Homeschooling & Cracker Country was a great combination.
  • I will always remember seeing how people used to live.  The kids had a great, educational time.
  • I liked how well organized it was! Great stories and hands-on experience.
  • Our guide did an awesome job of explaining the cattle, logging and past Florida industries to my students. This was great for our kids and I appreciate her knowledge.
  • The kids had a blast and the staff was fantastic!  We loved our guide!
  • Love this very much. Such a treasure for the fair.

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